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The Artist


Kalman Aron in his studio.  Photo © ELISABETH CAREN

Kalman Aron‘s (1924-2018) successful career spanned eight decades.

Born a child prodigy in Riga, Latvia in 1924, Kalman Aron began drawing at age three and at age seven had his  first gallery show of drawings which sold in one day. Latvian President Karlis Ulmanis was so impressed with this young 13-year-old’s artistic ability that he commissioned him to paint his official portrait and arranged for him to attend the Riga’s Academy of Fine Arts.

In 1941, his life changed forever.  The Germans invaded Latvia, killing his parents. Assigned to slave labor for the duration of the war, Kalman Aron was moved through seven concentration camps from Riga to the Baltic Forest, to Poland, Germany and then Czechoslovakia over the course of four years.  In the Riga ghetto, concentration camps and slave labour camps, Kalman closely watched the guards, studying their psychological makeup. Undeniably, this experience informed his painting for the rest of his life.

After the war, his talent was once again recognized with a full scholarship to the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna where he received his Masters in Fine Arts. When he immigrated to America and arrived in Los Angeles at the end of 1949, it didn’t take long before Kalman Aron’s work captured the imagination of Hollywood directors, producers and designers.  Throughout his painting career, Aron taught art at many institutions, including the Pasadena Art Center College of Design.

In 1956, Kalman Aron was named one of the “100 Outstanding American Artists” by Art in America.  He became a leading portraiture artist who painted adults and children in all media in the United States, England and the European Continent.

Aron’s artwork is in public and private collections throughout the United States and in Great Britain, Sweden and Israel.  His work has been exhibited at major national art institutions, including the Frey Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, San Francisco Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, Denver Art Museum and the Seattle Art Museum.

In the case of Kalman Aron, his drawings reveal an unusually perceptive and sensitive man as well as a draughtsman of extraordinary talent.“–Janice Lovoos, American Artist, March 1964

Listen to Kalman Aron tell his story  for the Shoah Foundation.

“The Remarkable Life and Art of Kalman Aron.” Watch the video

At the opening ceremony and dedication of Kalman Aron’s “Mother and Child” at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, 2010.




Kalman Aron has painted hundreds of portraits throughout his career, including the following:

  • Ronald Reagan, President of the United States
  • Henry Miller, Author
  • Andre Previn, Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Karlis Ulmanis, Prime Minister of Latvia (first commission at age 13)
  • Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird, California Supreme Court
  • Frederick R. Weisman, Noted Collector of Contemporary Art
  • Mario Casteinuovo-Tedesco, Composer
  • Madame Rosina Lhevine, Professor at Julliard School of Music
  • Nathaniel Rosen, Cellist
  • Henri Lazarov, Composer
  • Maurice Clifford, Commissioner of Public Health, City of Philadelphia
  • Gordon Davidson, State Director, Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles Music Center
  • Herman Spieth, Chancellor, University of California, Riverside
  • Hartwig Kulenbeck, M.D., Chair of Anatomy, Medical College of Pennsylvania
  • Gia Scala, Actress
  • Charles Luchman, Architect
  • Max Salter, Mayor of Beverly Hills

Art museums have exhibited his work, including:

  • The Frey Museum of Fine Arts in Houston
  • The San Francisco Museum of Art
  • The Seattle Art Museum
  • The Los Angeles Art Association Gallery
  • The Los Angeles County Museum
  • The Long Beach Art Museum
  • The La Jolla Art Museum
  • The Santa Barbara Museum
  • Denver Art Museum

Galleries in London, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Uppsala, Sweden have shown his work:

  • Karen Lynne Gallery, Beverly Hills
  • Sam Francis Gallery, Los Angeles
  • Installations One Gallery, Los Angeles
  • Feingood Art Gallery, Los Angeles
  • “Artists by Artist Portraits” Merging One Gallery, Santa Monica
  • Gallery 170, Los Angeles Otis Art Institute
  • “Portraits of Movie Stars” in Los Angeles
  • “A Retrospective”, Mt. San Jacinto College, San Jacinto
  • Hilda Swarthe Gallery, Los Angeles
  • Feingarten Gallery, Los Angeles
  • The Zachary Waller Gallery, Los Angeles
  • O’Hana Galleries, London
  • Maxwell Galleries, San Francisco
  • Galleri Kavaletten, Sweden.

People have been collecting his art for decades. These collections are located in London, Vienna, Beverly Hills, Tel Aviv, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Pasadena and Palm Springs. Some hold 8 to 10 of his paintings; one collector has 115.

Collectors over his career include:

  • Vincent Price, Los Angeles
  • Janice Lovoos, Los Angeles
  • Mr. and Mrs. William Powell, Palm Springs
  • Jack O’Hana, London
  • Marichu Beilby, Los Angeles
  • Louis Lenart, Tel Aviv
  • Bill Dana, Los Angeles
  • Max Palevsky, Los Angeles
  • Jack deFruif, Detroit
  • Max Salter, Beverly Hills
  • Charles Wellman, Los Angeles
  • Anita Von Karajan, Vienna
  • Elena and William J. Hermanson, Pasadena
  • Susan and John B. Magee, Washington, D.C.
  • Bingham McCutchen, LLP, Washington, D.C.